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Yellowstone Trip May 2005

Skiers in the off-season

Tue, May  24, 2005 - By Dan Motowski

Day 1: Milford, MI to Gardiner, MT

We woke early (4:30am!) on May 12th to start our journey to Yellowstone National Park. After the usual morning ritual we made our way to the Flint Airport for our flight to Minneapolis, MN and which would eventually take us on to Bozeman, MT.

The flights went fairly well and pretty uneventful especially the 3.5 hours layover in Minneapolis…boring! We finally arrived in Bozeman around 1:00 pm and retrieved our baggage and picked up our rental car….bonus we got a 2005 Subaru Outback!

Soon we were heading south on our way to Gardiner which is a town at the North Entrance to Yellowstone. On the way we stop at a nice restaurant and have a late lunch. I quickly ordered the best beer in Montana…a nice cold, frosty Moose Druel ( Oh, sweet nectar of the gods…I’m not a big drinker, but if the Druel was sold in Michigan I think I would be headed to AA meetings in the near future. We finished our meal and drove the rest of the way to Gardiner.

We check out the town, check into our hotel and relax for the night as we have to wake up early for our 2 day Safari Yellowstone ( trip which would begin at 5:30am.


Day 2 & 3: Safari Yellowstone

To sum up our Safari Yellowstone trip in one word, WOW! It really exceeded my expectations. We were into the park viewing wildlife everyday at 5:30am. Carl Swoboda founder of Safari Yellowstone and our guide for 2 days did an excellent job and had many facts and stats about the park history that filled the time in-between seeing the wildlife.

We picked a great time of year to go, lots of babies around the northern valleys of Yellowstone. We saw wolf and coyote pups, prong-horned antelope that were less than 30 minutes old, year old grizzly bear cubs, and grey-horned owl chicks. We saw grizzlies and wolf feeding on dead bison and elk. It was very cool to view these animals in their true natural habitat and to see them interact with each other. Carl kept us busy each day with many little hikes to good scenery and wildlife viewing areas.

The first day we were with him for 14 hrs and the 2nd for 12hrs, so he gave us our monies worth! I would highly recommend a safari with Carl’s company to anyone…it is perfect for the outdoors type person as he enjoys taking you off the beaten path into some quite areas. He said 98% of the visitors to Yellowstone never get more than 1 mile from the park road, so we were in the small percentage that actually get out and bush-whacked thru the park.

Day 4-6: West Yellowstone, MT

Rest! Our first night in West Yellowstone was OK to be nice. After a very bad meal and some shabby lodging (those Internet photos can be very misleading!) we picked up and moved across town to the new Yellowstone Lodge. It was a nice new hotel just down the road from the Rendezvous ski trails. They also had a nice breakfast with waffles and hard boiled eggs.

We spent our first full day in West Yellowstone relaxing and taking in a couple IMAX movies as well as trying to figure out our game plan for the rest of the trip. After a day of lounging we felt guilty and took a walk on the ski trails. I was imagining how cool it must be to be here during the Thanksgiving week, one of these years I’ll make it out! The next day was kind of raining and wet so it quickly became another lazy day…hey what are vacations for!?

We spent some time at the local ski shop and raided their winter closeout rack…can’t beat that ½ off Craft clothing ;) The next day we ventured back into Yellowstone to check out the hotspots of Old faithful and other hot water and mud. I guess it’s cool to see once but I would rather be off in the woods enjoying the mountain views than standing next to some hot, smelly sulfur pit. We quickly moved on after a very expensive lunch at the Old faithful cafeteria.

We moved into the central park of Yellowstone and as we moved up to around 8000 feet we found that a lot of snow was still around to keep us cool. After a couple of short cool hikes in the upper 30’s we headed back north towards Gardiner at the North Entrance to Yellowstone.


Day 7: Gardiner, MT

Bonus! We stayed in a brand new Travelodge last night for $44! It pays to shop around and it’s great to travel in the off-season. Our last full day was spent back in the northern valleys of the park. We hooked up with a very nice lady (Ann) we met on the safari. She spends a couple months here in the spring viewing wildlife away from her home in Boulder, CO….must be nice! ;) She was nice enough to let us tag along on her morning of viewing animal activity in the park. She let us check out stuff using her spotting scope. She took us to a grey-horned owl nest where we observed an owl and her 2 chicks hanging out in their nest….cool stuff. After a little lunch and a quick car nap we took one last Yellowstone hike before we were to head back to Bozeman for our flight home.


Day 8: Bozeman, MT to Milford, MI

Heading home…..we were both excited to head home as it had been 8 days since we have seen our 22 month old son Lance. Since our flight didn’t leave until almost 2pm we spent the morning hanging out in Borders and then caught an early lunch before heading to the airport. Our flights back went fairly smooth and we arrived back home at around 10:30pm. Good to be home! Spending time in the mountains is always great and puts a good perspective on what’s important in the world. All those little day to day things we fret about become very small when you are standing in the middle of a bunch of beautiful mountain peaks. Good for the soul.



2006 Comeback – Take 2

The original plan for the summer was to “get er done” and get back some good core/ski strength. I was feeling pretty good earlier in the spring….then in mid April I was hit with this “bug”? It hung around forever! I felt really tired and had lots of head and sinus congestion. Super cool snot L I didn’t do much for close to a month and didn’t feel right until halfway thru our Yellowstone trip. I’m starting to feel normal (if that is possible?) again and I’m starting to slowly get back on the horse. 2006 Comeback – Take 2…that’s the title of my training plan for this season. Take 2 because last season was a flop. Although my original goal was to get to 2 races (which I did) my training after late November was pretty lame even by my standards. I know what I need to do to have some OK results in 2006…SKI! I need to up my rollerskiing and ski specific strength it’s that simple….some more snow time wouldn’t hurt either! So, I may have to bite the bullet and bike a little less summer ;( in order to gain a little bit of ski strength.

My main goal for the season – Do 5 Mich Cup Races…..Fun goal – beat Muha at one NSR duathlon this fall….yeah, now that sounds like fun! ;) Now I go into double secret training mode...we’ll see this fall if I’ve been slacking! Get out and SKI!